At the conclusion of the SMART Transportation Division’s Boston regional meeting July 3, Transportation Division President Mike Futhey announced he will step down from office, pending resolution of arbitration proceedings regarding the union’s constitution.
In October 2011, Georgetown University law professor Michael H. Gottesman ruled the agreement to create the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers by a merger of the United Transportation Union and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association was an enforceable agreement and the two unions have been working to complete the merger since that time.
The arbitration proceedings center around interpretations of various articles of the UTU’s Constitution as it is inserted into the SMWIA’s bylaws to complete a final SMART Constitution.
Gottesman is again serving as the arbitrator in the current proceedings.
During a town hall forum at the Boston regional meetings opening ceremonies July 1, Futhey said agreement had been reached with most of the SMART constitution articles, but that several disputes remain. He indicated he would remain in office through the arbitration process, developing the constitution language for the transportation division.
He said the union does not want to release portions of the constitution that have been agreed upon until a final document has been decided upon.
“The final document is not a final document until that arbitration decision is made,” Futhey said.
Under the articles of the current UTU Constitution, Assistant President and General Secretary & Treasurer John Previsich would be elevated to fulfill Futhey’s unexpired term as president of the SMART Transportation Division.
Futhey is the eighth president of the UTU, currently known as the SMART Transportation Division. He was elected president in August 2007 and assumed office Jan. 1, 2008. He was re-elected president in August 2011.
The SMART Transportation Division opened its Boston regional meeting July 1 with a town hall forum at which SMART members were able to pose questions directly to the union’s leadership.
More than 800 members, guests and presenters are attending the regional meeting.
After opening ceremonies and remarks from SMART General President Joe Nigro and Transportation Division President Mike Futhey, the presidents were joined by SMART General Secretary-Treasurer Joe Sellers and Transportation Division Assistant President and General Secretary & Treasurer John Previsich to respond to questions concerning the merger of the United Transportation Union and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association and other issues.
The session was moderated by Transportation Division International Vice President John Lesniewski.
SMART Transportation Division President Mike Futhey, left, and SMART General President Joe Nigro prepare to receive questions at the regional meeting’s town hall forum.
On Tuesday, July 2, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman addressed meeting attendees during lunch, stressing the nation’s need to fund public transportation, address rail security needs and tend to its transportation infrastructure.
“We have a (competitive) edge in this country because of a great transportation industry,” Said Lynch. “There is an ongoing need to focus on that competitive advantage so we don’t lose it.”
Lynch said he recently sponsored a rail summit and traveled to Mumbai to study the weaknesses in their rail security system following terrorist attacks there. He also discussed rail security issues with representatives from the United Kingdom and Russia.
“The next threat, I think, will be to our local rail systems and infrastructure,” he said. “There is a growing sense of awareness that this is an area both Democrats and Republicans can agree on. We have grown complacent when it comes to our rail security.”
U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts receives a UTU clock from SMART Transportation President Division Mike Futhey following an address to regional meeting attendees and guests.
Boardman also addressed Amtrak’s rail security issues, noting that Amtrak has 500 police officers, 50 bomb-sniffing dogs and is a leader in explosive-detection technology.
He told the transportation employees and guests that the railroad of the future is coming, but that additional resources are needed.
He said that long-distance trains do not make money and have never made money, but that they provide a means of travel for many individuals who do not have access to other modes of transportation.
Referring to government funding of Amtrak, Boardman stressed that “it is not a subsidy, it is a cost for providing mobility. We are destroying long-distance trains by de-capitalizing them. We need to change that.”
Minnesota State Legislative Director Phillip Qualy speaks with Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman following lunch at the SMART Transportation Division’s Boston regional meeting.
By Mike Futhey, SMART Transportation Division President –
Throughout my career as a union officer, I have experienced every type of carrier safety program imaginable: from official company “snitches” to complex, overly burdensome and intrusive research, to innovative, cooperative, joint ventures. Employees need a program to know the program du jour.
When programs fall by the wayside, a newer, shinier version is released, with all the markings of its failing predecessor.
After such a critique, you may be surprised to know that, through it all, I have been a consistent proponent of collectively bargained, cooperative endeavors that recognize the real value of universal buy-in to a goal of a safer work environment.
The evidence is clear and convincing that a correlation exists between employee involvement and reduced incidences of on-duty injuries. There have been examples of carriers that have entered into collectively bargained agreements with our organization’s general committees that generated reduced rates of personal injuries on the job, only to see the positive results reversed when the agenda and agreement compliance morphed into a managerial option, with “reinterpretations” of long-standing proven processes becoming the standard.
There is one basic premise that must be recognized: “Our members are not masochists. This organization, from every level, desires to see each member go home safely at the end of the shift.”
We want to be a part of what works for the betterment of all concerned, but, we will not subscribe to a system designed to compromise the rights of the members we represent – we know the difference.
We know the difference when the managerial prerogative supersedes the integrity of the process.
We know the difference when the organization extends an offer to carriers to jointly explore a remedy for repeated violations of whistle-blower, provisions only to be met with “lawyering up.”
Genuine partnerships never, ever pull rank. Genuine partnerships must respect the integrity of the process and all who participate.
The process must be consistently adhered to, even when it is not comfortable to do so.
My message to the various decision-makers, whether they be in the airline, bus or railroad industry is, “it’s your call.”
The example you set will resonate, exposing the intent of your rhetoric. Do safety programs produce safety or manipulation of reality?
The answer to both is yes, if that becomes your intent.
SAN ANTONIO — Stronger protections for members, improved finances, successful organizing drives and superior wage and benefits agreements characterize the United Transportation Union in 2011, International President Mike Futhey told some 600 attendees in his state-of-the-union report at the first of two 2011 regional meetings here June 22.
“Before this administration took office Jan. 1, 2008, people said we couldn’t organize, couldn’t negotiate with carriers and couldn’t solve the union’s financial problems,” Futhey said. “We proved them wrong on each allegation. The UTU is stronger than ever.
“As this administration completes its fourth year in office,” said Futhey, “an average of one new air, bus, rail or transit property has been organized every seven weeks, two national rail agreements have been negotiated providing a combined 40 percent wage increase, the latest tentative agreement provides the highest increase in excess of the Consumer Price Index in the UTU’s 41-year history, and UTU and UTUIA finances have been improved dramatically.
“The UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund helped finance a petition drive in Ohio that put on hold – pending a November voter referendum — a bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights,” Futhey said. “In Wisconsin, UTU members were among the leaders of a successful petition drive forcing supporters of an anti-union bill to face recall elections in July and August. The Ohio and Wisconsin efforts forced political extremists in Indiana to shelve legislation to eliminate collective bargaining rights.
“UTU political activism has awakened and outraged voters in numerous states where political extremists are attacking middle-class values, including efforts to curtail their ability to vote through tougher registration procedures and fewer absentee voting days,” Futhey said. “We will do all we can to protect the integrity of the voting system.”
At the UTU International, said Futhey, automated billing and auditing, coupled with targeted cost cutting, reassignment of functions and upgrading of information technology allowed International funds to increase from $7.5 million to nearly $16 million. “There is no proposal for a dues increase at the upcoming quadrennial convention,” Futhey said.
The Discipline Income Protection Program reserve fund was turned from a $2 million loss in 2007 to a positive balance of more than $5 million today, “allowing sufficient funds to provide the protection UTU members expect and deserve,” Futhey said. “The UTU Insurance Association surplus has been made stronger and now stands at near $26 million.
“Our computer-based UTU University – a classroom without walls – is training officers to better serve their members at the negotiating table and in grievance handling,” Futhey said. “The awards data search engine has been improved, regional meeting workshops have been expanded to meet member requests, iLink provides better access to controlling awards and offers secure chat rooms for various levels of elected officers to exchange information and ideas.”
Among other achievements cited by Futhey:
The redesigned UTU website includes a Membership Toolbox with answers to member concerns and questions; and allows a feedback to UTU officers. “Member questions and concerns will be answered,” Futhey said.
A federally funded agreement was reached with Amtrak for the UTU to train employees to deal with unruly passengers; and another is being finalized with Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis to train workers to recognize, respond to and report terrorist threats. Discussions are underway to expand these training programs to other carriers.
Legislative activities succeeded in gaining conductor certification, minimum training standards, a requirement that an injured employee’s doctor — not the carrier — determine when to return to work, a prohibition against denying injured workers medical care or disciplining them for reporting injuries, and installation of positive train control.
The UTU is working with friends in Congress to amend the Rail Safety Improvement Act to require a 10-hour call for all unassigned road service; allow regular yard jobs only eight hours off-duty between shifts; require yardmaster assignments be covered by hours-of-service provisions; require advance notice of interim release periods; and a limitation on limbo time to a maximum of two hours for each tour of duty.
On behalf of our bus and transit members, the UTU is working to gain limitations on revocation of a commercial driver’s license for traffic violations when operating a personal automobile, a better appeals process for drivers taken out of service, limitations on civil actions against drivers, mandatory training for drivers, federal grants to assist with training of bus officers in negotiating skills, and greater flexibility to use transit capital grants for operating costs to preserve service and jobs.
On behalf of airline members the UTU is working to preserve Essential Air Services grants and improve safety provisions for pilots and flight attendants.
The UTU is working within the AFL-CIO to prevent privatization of Railroad Retirement, Social Security and Medicare. “Political extremists will not mess with your retirement,” Futhey said.
“This administration has delivered on its promises,” Futhey said. “Our record speaks for itself. We will never back up. We will never back down. We will always move forward.”
The UTU and the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA) are jointly seeking an anti-terrorist security grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
If the grant is approved — with a DHS decision expected in August — the UTU and TRRA will collaborate on a three-year project to train front-line TRRA employees to enhance security awareness.
The project — with International employee Bruce Feltmeyer (UTU Local 1402, St. Louis) leading the UTU team — proposes joint UTU/TRRA creation of a security awareness manual, plus emergency preparedness classroom training, drills and exercises that will present various terrorist scenarios and means of recognizing, reporting and responding to terrorist threats against TRRA facilities.
The TRRA is a major railcar switching facility, with yards in downtown St. Louis and in the shadows of the Gateway Arch.
Daily, carloads of hazardous materials and other security-sensitive cargo are interchanged among most major railroads by TRRA train and engine workers. “The nature of TRRA’s operation, its importance to national rail-network reliability, and its location in the heart of a major U.S. city could make TRRA a high-priority target for foreign terrorists as well as disturbed individuals,” Feltmeyer said.
The UTU is currently working with Amtrak to develop training of conductors, assistant conductors, on-board service personnel and yard employees to enhance their abilities to recognize behavioral traits and deal with unruly passengers. That project is funded with forfeiture proceeds from federal drug-busts.
Additionally, discussions are underway with Class I freight railroads regarding joint UTU/railroad applications for federal grants to develop similar training programs for front-line Class I employees.
Feltmeyer, who is administrative assistant to UTU International President Mike Futhey, says the knowledge and understanding of vulnerability demonstrated by TRRA Police Chief George Muraski and former Amtrak Police Chief Ron Frazier will ““help to make a strong case for DHS funding of this joint UTU/TRRA project.”
At UTU regional meetings in San Antonio, Texas, and New York City in June and July, Feltmeyer will lead educational workshops on recognizing, reporting and responding to terrorist threats.
“Bruce Feltmeyer is uniquely qualified for this leadership task,” Futhey said. “During his years of rail service, he has developed training programs for the on-line UTU University; and, as a Union Pacific employee, he helped to develop customer-service related training materials for conductors and newly hired managers.
“Bruce also taught business software as an adjunct professor at a St. Louis community college,” Futhey said.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Coy Marie Bradshaw Futhey, age 89, mother of UTU International President Mike Futhey, died April 3 in a nursing home here.
She was active in the Auxiliary of the UTU and its predecessor, Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, and served as president and legislative representative for UTU Auxiliary Lodge 755 in Memphis.
Active politically as a precinct official, she also taught Roberts Rules of Order to high school students, was a PTA president, a softball coach, held numerous offices in her church and was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star.
In addition to son Mike Futhey, Mrs. Futhey had three daughters — Bette Little and Gloria Crawford, both of Memphis, and the late Nancy Bass — as well as 13 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
Her husband, Malcolm Futhey Sr., who died in 2003, was a member of BRT Lodge 489 at Memphis, later UTU Local 1420. He served as his local’s secretary and treasurer and local chairperson, serving more than 1,000 members. He also served as his local’s insurance representative.
The elder Futhey was elected a local chairperson the same year former UTU International President Fred Hardin was elected a local chairperson on Southern Railway (now part of Norfolk Southern).
The elder Futhey also served as deputy president under UTU predecessor Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen President Parke Kennedy.
Are things better now than they were three years ago?
Have you witnessed an improvement in representation, union finances, internal procedures and management transparency since Arty Martin, Kim Thompson and I took office Jan. 1, 2008?
Here are the facts:
Union bank balances, after payment of expenses, improved in each successive month (with the exception of two months each year with three staff payrolls) — more than doubling since 2007.
General Secretary & Treasurer Kim Thompson aggressively cut operating costs; and UTU International officers reduced travel expenses through coordination of assignments and expanded use of electronic communications.
The UTU International’s move to smaller, more efficient headquarters space, and the addition of modern computers, will further reduce costs, while improving member services.
UTU Insurance Association reserves stand at $24 million as the UTUIA added policyholders and proved its products to be secure and price competitive.
Discipline Income Protection Plan (DIPP) reserves now exceed $8 million. Instead of the DIPP facing liquidation as it did three years ago, it now aggressively protects members by paying claims that competing plans frequently disallow.
Increased research, drawing on senior staff skills in finance and economics, made the UTU a more formidable presence at the bargaining table. More in-depth research into carrier finances provides credible justification for our Section 6 notices.
The workload of local treasurers has been cut substantially through application of Winstabs and the UTU International’s direct receipt of dues. Treasurers say that what previously took five hours to accomplish now is accomplished in one hour.
Organizing the unorganized brought hundreds of workers in the airline, bus, rail and transit industries into the UTU.
The UTU succeeded in having a bus portfolio — aimed at lobbying Congress and regulatory agencies on bus safety and driver training — added to the responsibilities of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department in Washington.
Not only does the UTU have a diversity program; but diversity was applied within the UTU so that every voice within the organization is heard and respected.
An expanded get-out-the-vote drive, using modern communication tools, is helping elect candidates to state legislatures and Congress who understand the needs of working families.
Those elected with UTU support return to seek advice from UTU state legislative directors and the UTU National Legislative Office.
The UTU Auxiliary, led by Carol Menges, works closely with the National Legislative Office assisting members and their families to register to vote and to vote on Election Day.
Increased UTU PAC contributions help elect labor-friendly candidates.
Since passage of the Rail Safety Improvement Act, which tightened penalties for carrier intimidation and harassment and added whistleblower protection, UTU designated legal counsel have pledged to support members each and every time a carrier violates one of the law’s provisions.
A UTU Rail Safety Task Force was created to supplement efforts of the UTU Switching Operations Fatalities Analysis (SOFA) Group and the UTU Transportation Safety Team to improve workplace safety. Results of a recent task force survey of members on fatigue, harassment and intimidation are already being reviewed by the FRA.
The UTU successfully partnered with Amtrak for a $300,000 federal grant for the UTU to train — by producing manuals and videos — on-board passenger-train staff in recognizing behavioral traits of terrorists and deranged individuals.
The UTU has approached the Class I railroads about expansion of the program to freight carriers. There are favorable indications that the carriers are interested.
Among accomplishments of the National Legislative Office was gaining an FRA requirement that, in implementing positive train control, carriers must provide separate computer screens in each cab, one for the engineer and one for the conductor, validating that two sets of eyes and ears are essential for train safety.
A promise was kept to yardmasters that in addition to preservation of their craft autonomy, they would continue to have a voice at the UTU International.
Officer training now includes additional and more needs-directed regional meetings workshops, such as training in situational awareness and for hazmat first responders.
You have become warriors through your commitment that we stand united in support of our membership.
Let the message go forth that if anybody tries to tread on us, they will be beneath our feet.
SAN FRANCISCO — In response to UTU International President Mike Futhey announcing the flawed merger attempt with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association “dead,” some 800 UTU members at a western regional meeting here July 8 responded with thunderous applause, foot-stomping, cheering and whistling.
“There will not be a merger today. There will not be a merger tomorrow. There will never be a merger with the Sheet Metal Workers,” Futhey told the loudly supportive International vice presidents, general chairpersons, state legislative directors, delegates, local officers and leaders in training while delivering his state of the union message.
Futhey described 18 painful months of frustrating talks with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) leadership, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs incurred as a result of the flawed merger that was initiated by a previous administration.
Implementation of the merger was halted by a federal district court in December 2007, prior to Futhey taking office.
In issuing, first, a temporary restraining order against the merger, and then a preliminary injunction, the federal court ruled that the UTU membership had not been permitted an informed vote when the merger question first was put out for ratification in mid-2007.
If the merger were to be restarted, said Federal Judge John Adams, a constitution for the merged organizations would have to be written and then submitted to the UTU membership for ratification — a process that was ignored when the initial merger ballot was sent to the membership in 2007 by a previous administration.
Among crucial facts withheld from the membership was that UTU’s cherished craft autonomy would be eliminated upon implementation of the merger.
In an attempt to lawfully restart the merger process — as suggested by the federal court — Futhey sought to engage the SMWIA to write the constitution that would govern a merged SMWIA and UTU.
“I have gone to the SMWIA time and time again to put a constitution together and protect the interests of UTU members,” Futhey said. “I met a stone wall each time.” He said the UTU’s insistence that craft autonomy be preserved in any merger was met by a SMWIA response that craft autonomy “can’t be accepted.”
Futhey said that when he took the UTU Board of Directors to a meeting with the SMWIA leadership in Washington — asking, “What will it take to put the constitution together” — the UTU was again rebuffed. The UTU board “overwhelmingly” said, “let’s walk away,” Futhey reported.
The federal court injunction against the merger is currently on appeal before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, with no time limit on when a decision might be reported out.
UTU: A UNION MOVING FORWARD
Futhey, in his state of the union message, said that in the 18 months since his administration has taken office, the finances, organizing efforts and image of the UTU have improved markedly.
The balance of the UTU general fund has almost doubled over the past 18 months, Futhey said, while the UTU Insurance Association surplus has climbed to $23 million, the Discipline Income Protection Plan is back in the black, the strike fund has grown by 45 percent, and necessary funds will be available for the 11th quadrennial convention in 2011.
Futhey reported that more than 300 pilots and flight attendants employed by Great Lakes Airlines have voted to be represented by the UTU; that more than 80 percent of some 110 pilots with Lynx Aviation have signed authorization cards seeking UTU representation; and the UTU is working to organize an even larger airline.
Increased organizing among bus-industry employees is further improving the UTU’s image — especially within the AFL-CIO — as a transportation union “moving forward,” Futhey said.
The UTU especially has gained stature among other transportation unions as a result of President Obama nominating two UTU officials for senior federal agency leadership roles, Futhey said.
Former UTU Illinois State Legislative Director Joe Szabo was confirmed by the Senate as the nation’s federal railroad administrator, and UTU Associate General Counsel Dan Elliott was nominated by President Obama July 7 to be chairman of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.
COLLABORATING WITH TRANSPORTATION LABOR
The UTU, Futhey said, also worked jointly with other transportation unions on behalf of successful Senate confirmation of former Association of Flight Attendants President Linda Puchala to be a member of the National Mediation Board, and former Air Line Pilots Association President Randy Babbitt to be federal aviation administrator.
The UTU PAC is essential to gaining labor- and UTU-friendly legislation, Futhey said, pointing to efforts underway to achieve new bus- and airline-safety legislation, and passage last year of the most comprehensive rail safety bill in more than a generation.
“The [rail safety] bill goes farther than we wanted [in some respects] and we may need further legislation to fix what wasn’t contemplated,” he said. And, once again, the UTU PAC will play a crucial role in that effort, Futhey said.
MESSAGE FOR CARRIERS
Futhey also had a message for carriers seeking unilaterally to change labor contracts using elements of the safety bill as an excuse, rather than negotiate changes as contemplated by the legislation. “We will defend our contracts,” Futhey said.
He also said the UTU would “not tolerate” carrier intimidation and harassment of members, and is moving on multiple fronts — in collaboration with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen — to ensure a minimum of two crew members on all trains, including switching operations in conventional and, especially, remote control modes.
UPCOMING SECTION 6 NOTICES
Futhey said that in advance of Railway Labor Act Section 6 notices being served in November — to begin a new round of national rail negotiations on wages, benefits and working conditions — UTU members will soon be asked for contract-change suggestions, and that a draft of Section 6 demands will be prepared for final determination in October by the autonomous UTU Association of General Chairpersons.
For more years than I care to count, we having been telling the carriers that if we couldn’t come up with a mutually acceptable solution at the bargaining table to the problem of availability policies and train-crew fatigue that we were going to ask Congress to impose a solution.
And still the carriers dithered, placing profits ahead of safety and ignoring the quality of life and safety threats of 30-day availability policies, seemingly never-ending limbo time, rolling the dice on circadian rhythms with wild swings in start times, and assuming human beings could maintain situational awareness as their cumulative sleep deficits mounted.
We provided the carriers with exhaustive evidence of train crews being called to work in a fatigued condition; and reminded the carriers that sleep scientists have concluded that going to work fatigued is equivalent to going to work drunk.
Even in the face of horrific accidents involving deadly hazmat releases and NTSB findings with regard to crew fatigue, the carriers continued to ignore our pleas to negotiate a solution to the fatigue problem. The carriers refused to negotiate.
So we went to Congress in the fall of 2008 which enacted the most far-reaching rail safety bill in decades. It was our only relief. The law didn’t give us everything we wanted, but it is a good, overdue and necessary law.
Most troubling now is that even with the new safety law’s changes in hours of service and limbo time elimination, the carriers continue to resist providing train and engine service employees with predictable starting times.
How can it be that an industry so fully computerized can’t provide its operating crews with predictable starting times?
The fact is, the railroad industry can.
In fact, on Canadian National, which Wall Street analysts say is the most efficient North American railroad, senior management is committed to train scheduling. CN CEO Hunter Harrison considers this good business, safe business and appropriate labor-management policy.
We are now negotiating with CN in hopes we can reach agreement permitting CN and the UTU jointly to petition the Federal Railroad Administration for a pilot project — under provisions of the new safety law — to demonstrate every railroad can efficiently provide train and engine-service employees with start and stop times within a predictable range of hours.
We stand willing to negotiate with any carrier a similar joint petition to the FRA for such a pilot project if that carrier is agreeable to structured start times.
Our objective is a changed culture that reduces employee fatigue, fully eliminates limbo time, assures situational awareness of all crew members, improves our members’ quality of life, boosts customer service, and contributes positively to each carrier’s bottom line.
It is high time to bring the railroad industry into the 21st century. This pilot project has the potential to do just that.
Almost a year has passed since Mike Futhey, Arty Martin and Kim Thompson took office.
They ran on a platform of specific promises, including full disclosure. Following are Futhey administration promises and results, so far:
Promise #1: Restructure the International by reducing the number of International officers in Cleveland,and providing the most possible assistance to general committees, state boards and local officers.
Results: The vice president-administration duties were consolidated with those of the general secretary and treasurer (GS&T), and that vice president position was reassigned to the field. All full-time officers are assigned on a full-time basis and are required to make detailed and timely reports of their activities.
Communication with local officers was expanded, especially through visits to locals and general committees by the International president, assistant president, GS&T and International vice presidents.
Also, the UTU Alumni Association was restructured to provide greater interaction between the UTU International and retirees.
Promise #2: Automate more functions.
Results: The Information Technology Department has accelerated the conversion of critical data from an antiquated mainframe computer to modern operating systems.
Direct deposit of dues, DIPP and UTUIA insurance premiums was implemented on CSX and portions of UP, with other national- agreement carriers to be added in 2009.
Automation of billing and auditing is underway.
Also, the iLink platform was expanded for use by general committees and state boards, allowing improved and more rapid access. iLink will be directly accessible from the UTU Web site by Dec. 1.
Promise #3: Expand education opportunities.
Results: The computer-based UTU University was created, providing structured, self-teaching programs through iLink. Group instruction, to assist officers in getting started, is underway.
The awards database search engine is being improved.
Regional meeting workshops are being fine tuned to better meet member needs, especially for officers administering the National Labor Relations Act.
Promise #4: Grow and protect the International’s finances.
Results: UTU International funds have increased by $3.4 million — some 45 percent — to $11 million since Jan. 1. They are managed for the most effective return consistent with a conservative investment approach.
Also, organizing of unorganized airline, bus and rail properties has been accelerated.
Promise #5: Expand the Bus Department.
Results: More aggressive organizing is underway of bus properties in the Northeast and on the West Coast.
Also, regional meeting workshops were beefed up to provide greater understanding of labor laws affecting bus members.
Promise #6: Yardmaster commitment.
Results: While there no longer is a vice president of the Yardmaster Department, a yardmaster vice president position remains within the International headquarters to provide assistance as requested.
Promise #7: Airline commitment.
Results: In spite of the demise of Big Sky Airlines, the assistant president is assigned to search out the unorganized in the aviation industry. Discussions are underway on two airline properties, where employee interest in the UTU, based on the quality of representation at Big Sky, is strong.
Promise #8: Improve the ability and ease of researching controlling awards.
Results: iLink now provides better access to controlling awards, plus secure chat rooms for various levels of elected officers to exchange information and ideas.
Promise #9: Grow the UTU through the right merger with the right organization, and provide full transparency in the process.
Results: The UTU International is aggressively defending attempts by the SMWIA to force a merger in the face of a federal court decision that members were not provided information on conflicts between the two constitutions prior to casting ballots in 2007.
Promise #10: Improve member services.
Results: Leadership reports are posted to the UTU Web site for member inspection.
Meetings have been held regularly by senior International officers with general chairpersons and state legislative directors in an open-forum format.
A monthly UTU News feature introduces members to UTU employees, and explains what they do.
Promise #11: Engage in successful contract negotiations.
Results: A new national rail agreement bettered the pattern was negotiated in January, and was overwhelmingly ratified by the membership.
Arbitration on training and service-scale is scheduled to commence in early December.
Also, UTU International officers are available to assist general chairpersons, as requested, including providing assistance in negotiating individualized agreements to satisfy the new rail-safety bill’s changes to hours of service and limbo time.
Advice on complying with the FRA’s emergency ban on use of electronic devices in the cab has been posted on the UTU Web site.
Advice on how hours-of-service changes in the safety bill will affect members will be posted by Dec. 1. Those changes are not effective until July 2009.
Promise #12: Expand the legislative agenda and deliver on those promises.
Results: The UTU provided leadership in passage of the Rail Safety Improvement Act — the most sweeping safety reform in 30 years. Included is a provision permitting general chairpersons to sit down with carrier labor relations officers and negotiate a better balance between time off and earnings, while preserving guaranteed time off.
UTU efforts to elect Barack Obama and labor friendly lawmakers exceeded any effort ever mounted by a labor union.
The UTU will continue efforts to fix the commercial driver’s license problem, and will work with the AFL-CIO to identify qualified nominees for regulatory agency positions in the Obama administration.
“We have achieved solid gains in pursuing platform objectives,” said UTU International President Mike Futhey. “We are committed to building on the accomplishments of the first year, and identifying new objectives to serve the membership.”
Remember back in grade school, when we were given a page with four pictures on it — a dog, a cat, a horse and an apple — and told to identify which one of the four didn’t belong?
Imagine, instead, a page with these four pictures: a paycheck, a health-care insurance card, a union contract, and John McCain. Why doesn’t McCain belong in that series of photos?
McCain said in his presidential nomination acceptance speech that he would take his war on unions to the White House.
McCain calls labor unions “class warfare.”
McCain opposes “Buy America” provisions in legislation.
McCain voted in the Senate to gut rail and transit collective bargaining rights.
McCain voted against federal funding for mass transit.
McCain supports privatization of Social Security and Railroad Retirement, which means turning our retirement security over to Wall Street financiers — the same folks who have made such a mess of our economy.
McCain is in favor of opening the U.S. border to Mexican-operated buses and locomotives.
McCain supports dismantling of Medicare.
McCain represents the same Bush administration anti-union bias that has resulted in appointments of anti-union federal judges, regulators and arbitrators who, in word and deed, view labor unions as an evil to be eradicated.
Contrast the anti-union John McCain with the pro-labor Barack Obama.
Obama has a 100 percent UTU voting record.
Obama has pledged in writing to protect Railroad Retirement, Social Security and Medicare.
Obama consistently has supported public funding for mass transit and Amtrak.
Obama has spoken out in support of the UTU position on the commercial driver’s license problem facing bus operators.
Obama understands that this election is about Main Street vs. Wall Street, and Sen. Obama stands solidly on the side of Main Street.
Obama understands, as did Franklin Roosevelt, that antilabor policies are not the spirit by which our nation was founded, and that cheap wages mean low buying power, and low buying power means low standards of living.
As Mike Owens, a Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen general chairperson says, “We can’t keep complaining about agreements that are lousy and continue to vote for people who stick it to us.”
Transportation trades workers in Illinois, who have known Barack Obama for two decades, beginning with his election to the Illinois state senate, are so impressed with his voting record and support for organized labor and working families that they made a video in support of Obama.
The video may be viewed at www.utu.org by clicking on the Obama photo and scrolling to “Video: Obama in their own words.”
Barack Obama, through his Illinois state senate and U.S. Senate voting records, has earned the respect of working families in America.
In these difficult economic times for all working families, I urge you to join with me and go to the polls on Election Day and cast a ballot for the candidate who will put working families first – Barack Obama.
We know our rail members employed by BNSF, CSX, KCS, NS and UP are anxious about the status of talks with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC).
The talks resume Jan. 22 in Jacksonville, Fla.
It has been a year since the UTU and the NCCC held negotiations; and, in the interim, other organizations did reach a new agreement with the carriers.
Our talks stalled, in part, over the matter of entry-level pay tied to training (which was the subject of a side-letter in the previous round of negotiations).
The talks are under the control of the National Mediation Board, and this session in Jacksonville will be the first with President Futhey leading the negotiating team.
There are some changes in the negotiating team owing to retirements and election-related departures. Assistant President Martin has been added to the team, having been on the team that negotiated in two previous rounds.
We do not anticipate we will be returning to square one with the carriers, as there was progress in previous sessions even though a tentative agreement was not forged.
We can say this in advance of the Jan. 22 resumption of negotiations: The UTU negotiating team will encourage a new and progressive attitude by both sides.
As you know, successful negotiations cannot and do not occur in public, but every UTU member affected should be assured that the UTU negotiating team recognizes the issues near and dear to our members, and your negotiating team intends to forge a tentative agreement that can and will be ratified by the membership.
We will provide an update on progress as soon as we are able.
Meanwhile, we have made significant progress in updating International vice president assignments, with the majority of requests for assistance from general committees — some extending back to mid-October — having been made.
Also, assignments for UTU representation on various FRA safety-related committees, as well as National Transportation Safety Board incident and accident committees, are in the process of being updated.
During the past week in Cleveland, we met with the dedicated and loyal International headquarters staff and assured them that this administration is sensitive to their concerns as we embrace change. We emphasized that we are all members of working families, and that working families survive and prosper by standing together and working together.
Additionally, we are working with staff of the UTUIA to ensure that the insurance needs and concerns of active and retired UTUIA policy holders are serviced properly and in a timely manner.
Another area receiving our attention is the Discipline Income Protection Plan (DIPP). The carriers have been accelerating the imposition of discipline and dismissal of UTU members. While we have made some changes to ensure the continuation of the DIPP, the accelerated discipline and dismissal of employees by the carriers requires a complete review of the DIPP.
It is essential to emphasize that while other job benefit plans are looking for ways to AVOID paying claims, the UTU’s DIPP has remained steadfast in looking for ways to pay claims of participants. We intend to shore up this plan and continue to provide the peace of mind expected by members and their families who participate in the DIPP.
With regard to the SMART merger, recall it is on hold through a federal-court temporary restraining order. A status telephone conference call with the judge, involving all parties to the case, is scheduled for Feb. 1, and a court-hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8 and 9. We shall be reporting more on this issue as events warrant.
Finally, we have scheduled a meeting with all International officers, general chairpersons and state legislative directors in New Orleans for the end of January.
On Jan. 29, which is a meeting for International officers only, we shall fulfill a campaign promise to provide training and education in available computer software related to their jobs, as well as work-related resources available to them.
On Jan. 30, International officers, general chairpersons and state legislative directors will be provided a review of the union’s financial condition. Also, at the Jan. 30 meeting, there will be a discussion of various issues facing the International, its officers and membership.
General chairpersons and state legislative directors should attend the Jan. 30 meeting only.